Stonehenge is a Neolithic and Bronze Age monument located near Amesbury in the English county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Salisbury.
It is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones, known as megaliths.
There is some debate about the age of the stone circle, but most archaeologists think that it was mainly constructed between 2500 BC and 2000 BC.
The older circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute perhaps the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.
The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.
It is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The monument itself is owned and managed by English Heritage whilst the surrounding downland is owned by the National Trust.
Stonehenge is located at 51° 10' 43.9? N, 1° 49' 31.6? W.
Map sources for Stonehenge at grid reference SU123422
Etymology Christopher Chippendale's 'Stonehenge Complete' gives the derivation of Stonehenge as being from the Old English words "stan" meaning "stone", and either "hencg" meaning "hinge" (because the stone lintels hinge on the upright stones) or "hen(c)en" meaning "gallows" or "instrument of torture".
Medieval gallows consisted of two uprights with a lintel joining them rather than the inverted L-shape more familiar today.
The "henge" portion has given its name to a class of monuments known as henges.
Archaeologists define henges as earthworks consisting of a circular banked enclosure with an internal ditch.
As often happens in archaeological terminology, this is a holdover from antiquarian usage, and Stonehenge cannot in fact be truly classified as a henge site as its bank is inside its ditch.
Despite being contemporary with true Neolithic henges and stone circles, Stonehenge is in many ways atypical.
For example, its extant trilithons make Stonehenge unique.
Stonehenge is only distantly related to the other stone circles in the British Isles, such as the Ring of Brodgar.
Development of Stonehenge
Archaeologists have found three large Mesolithic postholes nearby, beneath the modern tourist car-park, which date to around 8000 BC, and which may have had ritual significance, although there is no suggestion they are connected with the later monument.
During the earlier Neolithic, a cursus monument was built 600m north of the site as the first farmers began to exploit the area.
Later prehistoric pottery, Roman coins and the burial of a decapitated Saxon man have been excavated from Stonehenge, the last dated dated to the 7th century AD.
Dating and understanding the various phases of activity at Stonehenge is not a simple task; it is complicated by poorly-kept early excavation records, surprisingly few accurate scientific dates and the disturbance of the natural chalk by periglacial effects and animal burrowing.
In more recent years, the setting of the monument has been affected by the proximity of the A303 road between Amesbury and Winterbourne Stoke, and the A344.
Projects for moving the road or placing it in a tunnel under the site have been proposed in the past, but these have often been opposed, as they are either too expensive or too destructive.
In early 2003 the Department for Transport announced that the A303 would be upgraded, including the construction of the Stonehenge road tunnel.
The plans are still controversial and the government has not yet finalised the plans.
Replicas and derivative names
Stonehenge's fame has led to numerous efforts to recreate it, using a variety of different materials, around the world.
Some have been carefully built as astronomically-aligned models whilst others have been examples of artistic expression or tourist attractions.
There is a full-size replica of Stonehenge as it would have been before decay at Maryhill in Washington State, built by Sam Hill as a war memorial.
It is even aligned to the midsummer sunrise, but to the true position of the sun at the virtual horizon,
rather than the apparent position of the sun at the actual landscape horizon.
Stonehenge Aotearoa in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand is a modern adaption aligned with the astronomy seen from the Antipodes, it was built by the Phoenix Astronomical Society from wood and sprayed concrete.
The University of Missouri at Rolla has a half-scale replica located on campus, UMR Stonehenge is built from solid granite.
Carhenge was constructed from vintage American cars near Alliance, Nebraska by the artist Jim Reynolds in 1987.
A full-size Strawhenge was assembled in Kemnath in Bavaria in 2003 from 350 bales of straw and used as a music venue.
Another replica, called Stonehenge II, in Texas is constructed from an adobe-like material.
Tankhenge existed in the border zone of Berlin in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Wall.
Tankhenge was constructed from three ex-Soviet armoured personnel carriers.
Aside from modern replicas, several other archaeological sites have had Stonehenge's name partially or fully incorporated into their own names.
America's Stonehenge is an unusual and controversial site in New Hampshire.
A henge near Stonehenge containing concentric rings of postholes for standing timbers, discovered in 1922, was named Woodhenge by its excavators because of similarities with Stonehenge.
The timber Seahenge in Norfolk was named as such by journalists writing about its discovery in 1998.
In November 2004, a 7 m diameter circle of postholes was found in Russia and publicised as the Russian Stonehenge.
In 1995, Graeme Caims of Hamilton, New Zealand, built a replica of Stonhenge out of 41 refrigerators.
As the purpose of my pages are to record our travels, visiting places as tourist, many articles including this, is not a mirror site, but an abridged version of the source material.
For a more information about Stonehenge see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge) November 2005
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in November 2005. E. & O.E.
Sarolta and I visited this place during our trip around the British Isles in 1978.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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